Formula 1: McLaren engineer Pat Fry to join Renault for 2020

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Austin
Pat Fry
Pat Fry was Ferrari's technical director from 2011-2014, before moving to McLaren in September 2018 as the engineering director

Experienced Formula 1 engineer Pat Fry is to join Renault in 2020.

Fry, 55, who is a former Ferrari technical director, is on gardening leave having left McLaren this year.

Renault have employed him in a role yet to be revealed as they strengthen their engineering department in their bid to become a race-winning team by 2021.

It is their second staff change this week, following the return of Dirk de Beer to his previous role of head of aerodynamics after five years away.

De Beer, who has worked for Ferrari and Williams since leaving what was then known as Lotus in 2013, replaces Peter Machin, who is leaving the team "by mutual agreement" following a season in which Renault have failed to achieve their objectives of moving closer to the top three teams.

Fry led Ferrari's technical department from 2011 to 2013 before the team recruited James Allison - now at Mercedes - as technical director and Fry was moved to the role of director engineering, before being fired at the end of 2014, when Ferrari failed to win a race for the first time since 1993.

He worked for the now-defunct Marussia team as a consultant before joining McLaren last season, where he played an instrumental role in the restructure that has seen their fortunes revived in 2019 after a dismal season last year.

Renault took over the Lotus team at the end of 2015 and set themselves the target of becoming title contenders by 2021.

That target is in danger of slipping after their upward progress stalled this season.

Rather than consolidate their fourth place in the constructors' championship and move towards the top three teams - Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull - Renault have slipped behind their engine customers McLaren and are fighting a battle against Toro Rosso and Racing Point to retain fifth place over the final three races of the season.

Renault F1 team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: "This year has been marked by an amount of satisfaction but also some struggles. It's clear that this position of P4 that we had last year is going to be challenging to retain this year.

"We've been focused on growing, but in parallel we need also to look for a bit stronger technical leadership and making the team stronger in that area where we were a bit lean at that level."

Renault are also facing the uncertainty of an internal review started by interim chief executive officer Clotilde Delbos into the car company's entire operations.

Delbos - who has taken her position in the wake of the departure of former boss Carlos Ghosn following his arrest in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, which he denies - has made it clear that the review is not specifically targeting the F1 programme, but that everything is "on the table".

Abiteboul has said he is "optimistic" that there will be a "positive" outcome for the F1 programme.

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